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Ten Medical Symptoms to Take Seriously

How do you react when you experience an unusual pain or medical symptom? Do you rush to the doctor over the slightest cough or sniffle?  Do you wait until you feel really ill before seeking medical help?  If you’re like most people, you probably have a more balanced approach that falls somewhere in between these two extremes.  Hence you might ignore symptoms that are mildly irritating, but seek immediate medical attention for severe chest pains or abdominal cramps.  Unfortunately, however, certain seemingly mild medical symptoms can sometimes be a sign of something more serious. Read on to find out more about medical symptoms you’d be foolish to ignore.

Shortness of Breath

Shortness of breath resulting from strenuous exercise or a common cold is obviously not a cause for concern.  Shortness of breath can also be caused by obesity or hyperventilating. However being short of breath could be a sign of something far more serious such as angina, severe allergies, asthma or an impending pulmonary embolism. If ever you find that you’re struggling for every breath, seek rapid medical attention.

Unrelenting or High Fever

A fever is almost certainly a sign of illness. An unrelenting fever that lasts for three days or longer should never be ignored. Severe infections and certain types of cancer can cause persistent fever. A high fever of 104F or more should also be taken seriously because it can lead to heat stroke, brain damage and even death.

Disorientation & Confusion

If ever you feel unusually disorientated or confused, you could be suffering from delirium. Unusual thoughts, personality changes, difficulty remembering and inability to focus are also symptoms of delirium.  Delirium isn’t always serious.  Things like lack of sleep, low blood sugar, anemia and old age can lead to delirium. However, disorientation and confusion can also be a sign of something more serious. Brain tumors, psychiatric conditions, adverse drug reactions and drug overdoses can all cause delirium.  If you experience unusual thinking, memory loss, disorientation, inability to concentrate or general confusion, seek medical attention immediately.

Unexplained Weight Loss

Losing weight without making an effort to do so might seem like an appealing concept. However, if you find yourself shedding pounds though you aren’t on a diet, it could be a sign of a serious health problem.  Health conditions and diseases that can cause weight loss include severe depression, hepatitis C, cancer, hyperthyroidism, malabsorbtion issues, and Crohn’s disease.  If you’ve lost a lot of weight in a relatively short space of time without dieting, make an appointment to see your doctor right away.

Abrupt Severely Painful Headache

Headaches are very common and usually go away with rest and the appropriate pain medication. Nevertheless, you should never overlook a severe headache that comes on very suddenly. It could be that your headache is just a migraine or the result of tension. However, sudden severe headaches can also be caused by brain aneurisms, brain tumors, temporal arteritis or meningitis. If ever you experience a sudden and extremely painful headache which is worse than any you’ve had in the past, go directly to the nearest emergency room.

Weakness & Numbness

Weakness and/or numbness down one side of the body might not be a sign of anything serious. Migraine headaches, pinched nerves and hyperventilation can cause weakness down one side. However, you should never ignore numbness or weakness down one side, especially if it is accompanied by difficulty seeing and/or speaking. Sudden weakness down one side can be a sign of an imminent stroke or mini-stroke. Thus you should go to the emergency room directly because if you are having a stroke, every minute counts.

Persistent Cough

Coughing is generally associated with cold and flu viruses. Hence many people purchase over-the-counter cough remedies and don’t bother making an appointment with their doctor. A cough that won’t go away should never be ignored. Coughing is a common symptom of asthma, bronchitis or pneumonia. All of these are more serious than an ordinary cold. Coughing could also be a sign of lung cancer, tuberculosis, lymphoma, fluid on the lung, fibrosis, or even heart failure. If you have a cough that doesn’t go away, you should make a prompt appointment to see your general practitioner.


A person who has jaundice may be embarrassed by his yellow skin tone, but that’s the least of his worries. Jaundice can occur in people who have anemia or women who are pregnant. It can also be a sign of gallbladder problems, blocked bile ducts or liver conditions such as cirrhosis, hepatitis and viral inflammation. If your liver has stopped working correctly, you could die. If you notice that your skin has a yellowish tinge, seek prompt medical assistance.

Unusual Lumps

If you notice any unusual lumps or changes in the skin or tissues of your body, you should get it looked at just to be on the safe side. This is particularly true of lumps that appear in the breasts or testicles. Of course many lumps are nothing but benign cists. What’s more, inflammation can make your breasts or testicles feel different from usual. However lumps in the breasts or testicles could be cancerous, so you should never just ignore them in the hope that they will go away.

Bloody Stools

If you notice bright red blood in your stools after going to the bathroom, then you probably just have hemorrhoids or an anal fissure. However, other more serious health conditions can also cause rectal bleeding, and you should be especially wary of stools that are very dark red or black. Bleeding intestinal ulcers and colon cancer can both cause rectal bleeding.  If you notice that your stools are dark and tarry, the first thing you should do is consider what you’ve been eating. Do you take iron supplements or eat a lot of green leafy vegetables? If so, that’s probably why you are having such dark bowel movements. If not, you had better make an appointment to see your doctor.